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K’s big birthday gratitude project

I have a hunch that giving thanks, expressing my deep gratitude – for anything and everything, for anyone and everyone – is the ideal way to heal, to be whole.

all images by Kate Kennington Steer

Not a jumble-sale rummage,

elbows out, frantically carving one’s niche

amongst the pot-luck, wholesale 

throwing-out expense of energy;

smaller than that.

One step equals one unnoticed act,

equals one creation, one gift,

one intention, one thought,

one prayer, one relinquishing,

one blessing of releasing

burden or bounty: all that holds

back, weighs heavy – the deadwood hollowed

beyond being useful as a JoySpark,

a welcome pack, a conduit to praising

Maker, Giver, Grower.  Slowly.  Slowly,

silently, space emerges

from thanksgiving’s awareness, seeking

a right-full home.  Here, or there – 

now, or then – dropped rocks ripple,

pebblesplash eases out widdishins-wise,

a quiet deceleration, a caressed loss of momentum,

yet with energy sufficient, still, to reach

as a tap on a shoulder,

a turning:

a placing in open hands

of a single, unique shaving of abundance;

never nullifying, only magnifying,

never lessening, only multiplying …

‘pare’

Kate Kennington Steer

18.4.22 

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.

John Milton

It doesn’t have to be

the blue iris, it could be 

weeds in a vacant lot, or a few 

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t 

a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which 

another voice may speak.

‘Praying’

Mary Oliver

 

Where to start saying how grateful I am for the existence of the charity Creative Response (Arts)?  Since 2010 the arts workers and leaders have provided a safe harbour for me to grow my own wellbeing; they have provided a vibrant community of participants from all walks of life, and with all sorts of diagnoses, physical and mental, for me to meet, mingle and befriend; they have taught me new skills; they have shared their knowledge so generously; they have – above all – encouraged me into believing I am an artist, I am a poet, I am a printmaker, I am a photographer, I am a creative working across a variety of media, and it is ok not to be a specialist!  

As I wrote in August 2016:

Creative Response is my lifeline.  I have had M.E. for over 25 years and am a wheelchair user, and it is often difficult for me to get out and about, to see many people, or to practice my creativity in the way I would like.  I also struggle with clinical depression.  Over several years now, CR has given me an outlet to play with different art media (I am at my happiest when my hands are messy!) and a chance to have some regular social contact .  The CR sessions remind me of who I am – as a whole person as well as an artist – even if there are weeks when I am not well enough to participate.  The various practitioners who facilitate the sessions have been superb in their encouragement to ‘just try and see’, ‘just have a go’.  They could not have been kinder in dealing with my condition and their generosity in sharing their expertise never fails to astonish me.

This all remains true in 2022!  CR gives me the confidence to say: I am a writer, a contemplative photographer, and a visual artist who cannot stop creating … and this is still who I am when I have ‘nothing to show for myself, when I have not ‘produced’ anything – let alone ‘made art’ – for months.  CR helps me remember that I am a ‘creative’ even if I have been bed-bound for weeks, or am so exhausted I can barely sit up for 30 minutes, or if I cannot find the energy to make a line on a piece of paper, or I am rendered temporarily mute by seizures, unable utter a coherent thought and remember it long enough to write it down. 

So this is why, for the month of May 2022, as I celebrate my 50th birthday, I am launching a fundraising campaign for Creative Response.  I know that there are many people in the UK (and elsewhere) for whom money is becoming increasingly tight at the moment, and believe me, I get how hard it is to keep giving financially in the face of alarming energy bills, or being in dire straits when a car fails and a computer crashes.  But …. personally, I believe the extremely small amounts of money I give to a few select charities does help me remember I am connected to others.  Small acts of financial giving helps me grow my ‘compassion muscle’, which withers quickly in the face of being housebound for a while, or when depression’s isolating grip is deep and strong.  It is at those times when giving away money becomes one of the very few life-decisions I can control, because I feel I have no other way to give – or nothing to give – to others.  Thanks to the care and support CR gives me, moments like those are getting more infrequent.

If you can, (and only if you can, this is not a guilt trip!) please give £5 (or more, but even £5 will buy a tub of acrylic paint or a couple of bits of lino or two paint brushes or a pack of pencils; or £5 helps pay for an arts therapy worker to sit with one who struggle physically or mentally and facilitate their innate creativity to ease and express their pains and their joys).

Here is the link to ‘K’s gratitude project’ via Paypal (you also have the option to pay via credit card via this same link):

go to https://creativeresponsearts.org

and click the DONATE button

I write this with so many thanks, in advance, for your generosity.  I know many of you who cannot give financially will give your thoughts and prayers to this project. Those thoughts and prayers are also incredibly precious.  They strengthen the connections between us, expressing our common humanity.  They declare the need for art to speak truth, to speak peace as well as justice, and the need for all art to teach us how to be present to what is before each of us now, to see that we are not alone in feeling alone, to give us space so we can be grateful, and prompt us to turn that contemplative moment of thanksgiving into an active moment of help for the person next to us.  It is possible to grow hope, to grow love, to grow community; despair never needs to have the last word when it can be healed by a scribble, a blob of paint, a pile of clay, a pot of earth, a jumble of wool, a rip of fabric, a pin-hole camera and a safe space to play.

Attention is that doorway to gratitude, the doorway to wonder, the doorway to reciprocity.

from The Art of Noticing, Rob Walker

It doesn’t have to be

the blue iris, it could be 

weeds in a vacant lot, or a few 

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t 

a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which 

another voice may speak.

‘Praying’

Mary Oliver

It is possible to grow hope, to grow love, to grow community; despair never needs to have the last word. 

k’s big bday gratitude project 4: CHANGE!

So … there are plans and then are change of plans … arrrrgh! … breathe … BREATHE … and begin again …

Owing to circumstances beyond my control, the dates for the ‘episodes’ exhibition have been moved; and the scope of the exhibition has needed to be less expansive than original discussions had led me to hope. Anyway …

my story stands. My work stands. I believe other opportunities, technologies, ways and means of exhibiting and sharing and talking about making these ever-evolving digital one-finger paintings as forms of healing, (since sadly, the seizures keep showing up with irregular persistence!) will be discovered – at the right time, brought to me by the right people, to reach whomsoever needs it in that moment.

Ways will emerge.

I remind myself: small beginnings are significant, are vital, are never to be underestimated. They give mustard-seed, life-breath, encouragement to all those who keep on keeping-on, trying to express the beauty, the pain, the loss and grief, the joy, the nourishing, the thanksgiving and never-forgetting, the wonder in each #epiphanyoftheordinary.

Please let me know if you plan to come and see – I would love to meet you and natter. Please share as freely and widely as you feel able! All blessings.

K’s big birthday gratitude project 3

Kathryn McManus from CR with me at Farnham Pottery (Photo: Laura Carling)

I often am to be found with a mug of tea, and love nothing better than sharing several pots with friends over the course of a long afternoon’s natter. So having the first of my birthday celebrations as a tea party felt right – and all thanks go to the staff at the Farnham Pottery and the Hobo cafe. (Sadly, planned celebrations with friends and family earlier in the month have had to be postponed due to my ill health – so I have declared my 50th year as a Jubilee year, determined to make lots of small opportunities for different kinds of occasions throughout the months, in the hope this might be more ‘realistic’ and manageable.)

This tea party however, was a ‘big do’ for several reasons. Firstly, I invited all Creative Response Staff, Trustees, Arts workers, Volunteers and Participants to join me to celebrate the charity: a big hurrah for its sheer dogged existence, and all that it does for those of us who need it, is long overdue.

Secondly, it was an occasion jointly planned by the Farnham Pottery and Creative Response to announce the upcoming exhibition of my work in July: Ta Da!

This is my first solo exhibition and features very new work from the most unexpected source. As the blurb above says, in addition to the diagnoses of M.E., clinical depression, Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder, in 2019 the ‘unexplained’ seizures I have experienced over the course of the last thirty years were diagnosed as FND (a Functional Neurological Disorder). Opinions on the causes of these episodes of ‘paralysis’ have differed widely during the last thirty years. I have been told by some medics that ‘it’s all in your head’. Others insist there was an initial trauma in 1990 that is being replayed time and again, others note the similarity some of the seizures have to ‘dissociative’ behaviour, others say they are a rare symptom of M.E. that only 3% of sufferers experience, and are probably caused by abnormal adrenalin function. Eventually all of the experts end up saying to me, ‘you just have to learn how to manage life with them’. And so I have, sometimes having a warning sense that I was feeling ground down, like a clockwork toy running out of energy, to the point of collapse; or I just came to an abrupt stop and without warning lost the use of legs or arms; or in reaction to sudden shock, developed severe muscle muscle spasms which could last for several hours, and look very like an epileptic fit. In all of these types of seizure, I lose my ability to speak for at least some of the time – perhaps the most frightening and frustrating symptom of these episodes – when I am unable to communicate the help I need. So I find it fascinating to note that a new type of expression has emerged out that very same place of ‘muteness’.

some ‘teaser’ images and info announcing the ‘episodes’ exhibition (photo: Laura Carling)

Despite being told by a primary school teacher that I could not ‘colour between the lines properly’, I was always intrigued by how I might express film, pencil, paint, thread or yarn to communicate some precious essence of the world I found immediately before me. I first picked up a camera aged 7 and since then dwelling on the miraculous details found in the everyday has become my passion, which I now sum up by the tag #epiphanyoftheordinary. Besides being a very visual person, I’ve also been a wordsmith since I was a young child. A teacher made me a book of my poems when I was aged 8, and I continue to delight in the intricacies of language and vocabulary, and the possibilities to be found in wordless pauses and silence.

Yet despite these passions, by my 30’s I had lost the vision of myself as a creative, and depression narrowed my vision to such an extent that life became about just surviving the next five minutes. Acute exhaustion and my feeble immune system often left me bed- or house- bound for weeks at a time. 

(photo: Laura Carling)

In 2010, a combined team from local mental and social services came across the Farnham- based charity Creative Response, and found a package of funding for me to attend a 2-3 hour art session once a week based at a wheelchair-accessible space at Cranleigh Arts Centre. These sessions rapidly became my lifeline. The support of astute, encouraging and knowledgeable arts workers and arts therapists was amazing – literally life-giving. I owe CR a debt of deep gratitude, for without their intervention I would not have the confidence to call myself a ‘creative’ once more. The faithfulness of CR in adapting to the evolution of my physical and mental health needs over the past 12 years has been astounding, and I count myself so fortunate to be part of the CR family.

310122ep Kate Kennington Steer

The immediate context to this exhibition is my adventures into the world of digital ‘paint’. As a reaction to the COVID-19 vaccines I received in March and May 2021, the FND seizures (also known as ‘episodes’) grew significantly more frequent and more severe. The muscles cramps, clawing and spasms were more painful, lasted longer, and were resistant to being reduced by mindful breathing, meditation and the distracting techniques and tricks that have been taught to me down the years. In addition, I developed a persistent tremor, which prevented me from finishing the huge lino-cut that I was in the middle of carving, and prevented me from finishing the oversized canvases upon which I had been throwing acrylic paint. Eventually, in my grief at missing yet another family gathering with my beloved nephews and niece; and in frustrated fearfulness that my life was just passing away before my eyes, one mindless game of iPad solitaire at a time; I decided that I needed to take a more proactive stance against the pain and the acutely limiting impact the episodes were having on daily creativity levels and thus my well-being. Despite not being a fan of the craze for iPad painting that took off after David Hockney, nor liking the levels of digital photo manipulation now so requisite for commercial photography, on a whim I decided to buy the ArtSet 4 iPad app. I soon discovered that I could manage a cack-handed form of ‘finger painting” (normally the clawed, shaking index finger of my right hand) and that it could be enjoyable, effective and satisfying. It focussed me on being playful, experimental and expressive (the polar opposite from pain-wracked, depressed and insular). Gradually I noticed that I could sometimes reduce the length and severity of the seizures by concentrating – or distracting myself – on playing with paint on a screen. I now know that immersing myself in colour, shape and line is infinitely healing for me. 

(photo: Laura Carling)

This app has become a major tool for both me and my carers when ‘episodes’ afflict me. On a bad day, when a trigger might be as insignificant as a door slam, a phone alert or a leaf-blower, having a tool always within reach which might help me work through – which might heal – a seizure, is frankly miraculous. One day I shared some of the digital finger-paintings with my peers and arts workers at Creative Response, and the results of that sharing are about to be shown publicly for the first time.

The paintings emerge from my visceral emotional response to each seizure. Oftentimes the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anxiety might result in pieces of counterintuitively bright colours and vigorous expressive strokes. Othertimes I may be particularly aware that my busy ‘monkey-mind’ needs calming and my breathing needs subduing, and so softer palettes are used, and more subtle images produced. Where paint is heavily applied in many layers or a multitude of media are used, I have either been subject to a particularly vicious bodily experience, and need a space to express my anger, frustration and disappointment; or I have become heavily involved, invested, and engrossed in the image, where all that matters is the making.

I know that many readers of this blog are scattered across the globe, so I hope to discover good ways of sharing some of these ‘episodes’ paintings with you here too – but in the meantime please do come to Farnham in July if you are in the area!

180522ep Kate Kennington Steer

k’s big birthday gratitude project 2

Some of you will have already come across a version of this post or an extract of its content … but there are at least two immediate reasons to repeat myself!

The first reason for being especially grateful is that the Godspace blog has been central to my growing confidence as a writer and thus my growth as a creative since 2014. I attribute Canadian poet Gillian Wallace with the dubious honour of giving me the final push to begin the first incarnation of my shotattenpaces.blogpost.co.uk blog. In 2012 she picked up on my renewed confidence with a camera in hand, a deepening sense of feeling at home in expressions of contemplative spirituality, and coupled it with the physical ability to take a maximum of ten paces from car or front door. The widening opportunity to write for somebody else’s blog, came through a synchronous combination from a link to Godspace from Abbey of the Arts and a personal contact to the amazing Godspace creator Christine Sine, from one of my wise women elder figures, Revd Anne Townsend, who was a contributor to Godspace at the time. So to celebrate Godspace in conjunction with noting their role in my years of creative recovery, feels absolutely perfect.

The second reason to be re-state my gratitude is that what was a potential dis-abling experience on a Creative Response multi-art form, multi-response project became a life-enhancing opportunity that has stretched way beyond the original scope of the project which was ‘confined’ to May to July 2021 so that I have now taken the plunge and begun my own YouTube channel.

So a month after I should have shared… here is a post I wrote for Godspace as part of their celebration of Earth Day 2022, which was published on April 21st:

all words and images by Kate Kennington Steer

Between April and August 2021 Creative Response Arts was working with performance poet Justin Coe and the Space2Grow community garden project from Farnham, Surrey to make a site-specific arts installation and to publish a book of written responses to the garden, its users, and volunteers. As part of the writing group, I was hoping to spend several long summer days in the Space2Grow acre, by the pond, maybe helping pick fruit or to hoe a row of veg, in between working at various writing exercises with a small-yet-wonderful group of other writers (who had never occupied the same physical space and time together). Sadly, it became apparent that the Space2Grow garden wasn’t yet fully wheelchair accessible and so I would be unable to join the group on these Garden days, getting to know the space to which we were to respond. Instead, I decided to shift my focus slightly and base my own work on what I could experience from my beloved Mum’s ‘greenhouse garden.’ What emerged was a sequence of thirty poems entitled ‘growing space.’ Some of these finally found their way into the group anthology ‘Where Seeds Are Planted Poems Grow’. This book was launched during the Farnham Literary festival in early March, and since I was unable to be physically at the launch, I made several (really basic) short films, each no longer than three minutes, of me reading a selection of my poems included in the anthology.

As part of the celebrations and demonstrations around Earth Day/Earth Hour, I offer a couple of these short films to the Godspace community. For me, each word, photo and painting that together constitutes my ‘growing space’ sequence, is a miracle of grace: a dis-abled, isolating moment of potential exclusion was transformed into an opportunity for learning, expansion and community. It feels like my own personal parable of just one instance where beauty has emerged from ashes – again – to surprise and stagger me into remembering the Presence of the One who continues to Grow is beside me throughout …

growing space xviii

come into the garden of colour

dig down through the undercroft of umber

be bedappled below sunfiltered lime

interweave between smoked rounds of plum

and orange-zest edged in iridescent pink

breathe in lungfuls of rose for rest, then,

wander through the meadow of waving

white daisies turned pointillist painting

by cornflower, nigella and canterburybell blues

highlights of red campion, mauve borage

shadows of dusky lavender leaning into indigo

sit amongst the sunflowering solarseekers

let your face reflect buttercup gold

warm yourself beside the spiced flames

of marigold, nasturtium and yarrow

wade through waters become skywindows

duck-egg-shell wash under the cream-centred

lilies as they float, fill, tip, empty, float, fill, tip,

empty their rainbowed balm over your feet

seek your palette here where shades 

display all their hues, shuffling in intensity

as the light falls, conjuring new dynamics

and harmonics at the moon’s rise

you who know your colour, come, rejoice,

you who can only feel alien in your skin

come, explore, and let the comfort 

of colour find you, here, where

each tone has its tune, come,

bring your voice to add its riches

the garden of colour welcomes allcomers

growing space vi

to become human again

make your own ritual:

before you dance, 

sit quiet, 

breathe 

into this place,

receive

its’ breath into you;

be your own education:

hear the ant scurrying concrete,

watch the blackbird scuffing soil,

follow the petal’s unfurling 

attune to the arc of the sun;

find your own purpose:

soak yourself in wind and rain,

saturate yourself in the orange 

warmth of peeling brick,

shelter yourself in the shivering blue

shadows under eaves,

let the eyes of your heart 

sink deep into scent,

inward and outward be opened,

listen to your own knowledge take deep root,

awake to the pulsations of connecting

and permit them to propel you

to where you are most needed;

accept your own responsibility:

bend your head and allow

this benediction of green

to flow over you,

blow through you, and then,

only then, find your means 

to pass on such blessing

to another.

Editor’s Note: If you’d like to see more of our author Kate Kennington Steer’s poetry read, you can check out her YouTube channel here!

gospel 8: My signs

Mark 16.15-20

I AM Good. I AM News to be proclaimed.  Use the GoodName of I AM for it has power to transfigure and transform, power to reach all peoples in all places.  I AM accompanies you.  I AM your Companion as you share Me.  I AM your Companion as you speak about Me, of Me, with Me, in Me.  I AM your Companion as you touch others in healing so you too might be healed, might be restored, might be recovered.  How do you know the I AM is with you in all this?  See My Signs next to you – everywhere.  Everything declares I AM.  So let Me work with you so you can see, then you can show others where, how, who I AM.  I AM Sun, Moon and Stars.  I AM Night.  I AM Day.  I AM Colour.  I AM Salt of the Earth.  I AM Bread of Life.  I AM House of Light.  I AM Home in the Dark.  Hear Me in Brian Blessed’s bellows of poetry and prophecy.  Hear Me in the quiet shush of a hairbrush caressing a precious head.  See Me as the Child hesitating, contemplating her next important step.  See My Symbols arise from keyboard clicks, read My Revelations in the fingers’ moves, in the nails’ dance.  I AM Detail.  I AM Creator.  So watch My Radar, seek My protection from the coming storms.  I AM Paint Splash.  I AM Rest.  I AM your Support.  I AM Grafitti on a foreign wall screaming stories from voiceless victims.  I AM Simplicity.  I AM Raindrop.  I AM Hands reaching high for help.  I AM Care Package.  I AM First Aid.  I AM Charity.  I AM Supplier of all your needs.  I AM the Cleaner willing you to see your colour under your grime.  I AM Joker, displaying the true worth of your cravings for status and possessions.  I AM Sight in, for, your sore eyes.  I AM Teacher.  I AM Riddler.  I AM Questioner.  I AM Answer.  I AM your Hands.  Your Times are in My Hands.  I AM not gone; I AM Here.  Go: I AM working with you, and you can make it look like I AM.

gospel 7: take & give

Mark 14. 12-16, 22-26

I AM the Giver so take of Me.  I AM the Giver so give from Me.  I AM your hands so receive and distribute My blessings.  I AM giving you what you need, all the time, so take from Me – then give what others need, all the time.  Take from My Hands and give to one another’s hands, for I AM in the giving and in the taking.  I AM the Exchanger and the Exchanged.  I AM poured out for you, so you can pour me out to many.  Take what I AM offering to you of Myself:

I AM light-bringing. I AM coin-spending. I AM wind-whirling. I AM flavour-savouring. I AM tea-drinking. I AM food-distributing. I AM water-cleansing. I AM dirt-peeling. I AM pollen-gathering. I AM whisper-listening, I AM paint-brushing, I AM colour-spreading.  I AM laughter-bubbling.  I AM friend-sharing.  I AM surprise-giving.  I AM landscape-unfurling. I AM delight-bringing. I AM power-providing. I AM inspiration-exploding. I AM silence-presencing. I AM wave-watching. I AM staff-protecting. I AM hand-holding.  I AM strength-providing. I AM Wisdom-enlightening. I AM book-worming. I AM story-telling. I AM song-singing. I AM bread-breaking. I AM wine-flowing. I AM beauty-bearing before you.  I AM the frame for all that is; for all that is, I AM.  I AM asking you: Take all I AM.  I AM begging you: Give all I AM.

gospel 6: Be on the watch for Me.

Mark 13.33-37

Aware of who I AM? 

Awake to where I AM?

Look.  I AM the ColourSwirler.  I AM the LightBearer.  I AM the StarGuider.  I AM the PrayerReceiver.  I AM the ViewFinder.  I AM the HealthBringer.  I AM the WisdomKeeper.

Look. I AM in the eyes of the poor.  

Look. I AM reflected in the eyes of the elderly.  

Look. I AM perfected by the eyes of the child.

Look up. I AM the WindHoverer.

Look out.  I AM the BeamDeliverer.

Look up and out.  I AM the ShieldSteadier.  I AM the ProtectionCoverer.  I AM the RescueRemedy.  I AM the GuardianGreeter.  I AM the NewsGatherer.  I AM the InformationCollector.  I AM the WeatherWarner.  I AM the BroadCaster.  I AM the SignalSender.

Look.  I AM rising in the East.  

Look.  I AM moving in the South.  

Listen.  I AM whispering in the North.  

Listen.  I AM singing in the West.

Look through with Me: I AM the NightsEyes.  I AM the RestEaser.  I AM the DreamDelighter.  

Look down with Me: I AM the MudSquelcher. I AM the WellingtonBootDancer. I AM the PuddleJumper. I AM the DirtPieMaker. I AM the SoilTreasurer.

Look below with Me: I AM theEarthMover. I AM the DarkMiner. I AM the TrackBetween. I AM the LineLaidAlong. I AM the TunnelTraveller.

Look along with Me: I Am the TimeWeaver.  I AM the ThreadIntwiner.  I AM the Warp and the Weft.  I AM the PatternPlayer.  I AM the ShapeBinder.  I AM the HandHolder.  I AM the FingerShaper.  I AM the WorkAllocator.  I AM the JobProvider.  I AM the SkillSharer.  I AM the OpportunityCreator.

Look.  I AM the DoorWay. I AM the Threshold.  I AM the ArchShaper.  I AM the KeyHolder.

Look.  I AM the StemGrower.  I AM the LeafGreener.  I AM the AbundanceGiver.  I AM the FreshBrancher.  I AM the BlossomBringer.  I AM the FruitFormer.  I AM the NewComer.  I AM the ReliableReturner.

Who do you say I AM?  

Where do you look for Me?  

What do you hear Me tell you?

You do not know?

Look. Look in. Watch. Inside of you I AM.

gospel 5. be. here. listen.

Mark 9.2-10

I AM the leap. I AM the ice cold air you gasp in on take-off.  I AM the muscles which lift you, the limbs which bend, flex and fly free.  I AM the gravity which holds you safe and brings you back down to earth.  I AM the same whether this leap springs from your mind or body.  I AM the exhilaration.  I AM the dance and I AM the dancer, concentrating all her will and skill into this solo jump toward Me.  I AM the drumbeat echoing amongst ancient rocks, the pounding in the blood, the thrumming repetition that here be your stuff of life.  I AM beneath the clamour of the Battle Cry you sound in attack or defence.  I AM the fear you try to disguise with noise.  I AM the tags you paint on your concrete cave walls, the secret language some call desecration, others decoration, others poetry in symbol, others still a claiming of the land, demarcating the borders of the territory of modernity, for My sake.  I AM waiting below the clashing, flashing, whirring, clacking of the shutters, a hungering horde slavering for the soundbite, unable to hear the substance.  I AM the feathered frenzy of cheeps and calls which respond to your tending, those sounds so redolent of a particular place and time in your memory of a moment when you fully attended their subtle glories.  I AM the cry of pain your body gives to recall you from living in your fantastic fabulations which spin you far into the past or future.  I AM every knot and tug, every cramp and cut, every cell supplicating for self-compassion, for you to treat yourself as the infinitely valuable, infinitely beloved child you are.  I AM the one who holds you by the hand wherever you walk, taking you towards sights that will thrill you, even those you ignore at the end of your street.  I AM that light which shines on you and yours, revealing a multitude of messages in each tone and hue and shade of colour.  I AM the voices of the past who visit you so you may hear the story from their point of you,, so your compassion for your ancestors can be activated.  I AM the cloud of witnesses, I AM the communion of saints who have gone before you, whose presence surrounds, protects and guides, by means visible and invisible.  I AM those places whose names you cannot pronounce but whose need for the skills you can bring and the resources you can muster and share is urgent and as yet unmet.  IAM those distant lands you categorise as ‘third world’ just as I AM the lands which surround you as you read this, those that you deem ‘civilised’.  I AM every map which charts the wonders of terrain and topography, of population and rainfall, of mountain, ocean, heath, moor, desert, forest, city alike.  I AM the ancient places, the genius loci of those spaces you built to hear a play, where your sounds travel up impossible heights down the thousands of years, all made possible by the arcane mysteries of acoustics.  I AM your echo-chamber, your sound-deflector, your voice-projector, the secrets of your heart, your mind, your body, your soul have no hiding places from Me – and if you allow Me, I will help you overhear your self so you may grow with Wisdom.  I AM the time you take to concentrate, to unravel the scrolls, the scribes, the manuals, the poets, to attend to the adventurers’ tales of discovering this world that together, we continue to make full of wonders.  I AM under all your complexities, all your trailing vines and roots which entrap and confuse, as I AM the simplicity of the flower in the field, the lily of the water. I AM the unfurling and the flourishing and the blooming: your unfurling, your flourishing, your blooming.  I AM the recycler of yesterday’s thousands of words you claim are news into containers for the very newness of Life.  I AM the Invitation which demands nothing of you but that you lend Me your ears and pause, to be who I made you l you to be, just long enough to receive the bounties I would pour into them.

gospel 4: overcome with amazement

Mark 5.21-24, 35b-43

I AM with you, remember?  So let go: be overcome by all I AM.  Cease your weeping, I AM Healing.  Cease your commotion, I AM Healing.  Cease your attachment to hopelessness, I AM Healing.  How else will you hear who I AM?  How else will you see who I AM? How else will you recognise the works of wonder I AM?  Peace.  Be Still.  

Now, come with Me and let Me overcome you:

Let Me bring precious gifts from foreign lands to all your newborn, fragile, vulnerable, small, childlike, naked places.  Allow Me to show you the view from the highest of Mountains, then let Me take you out of this troposphere and see all I AM from there.  

Let Me guide you down the mysteries of Time and show you the dead shapes of the monsters you so feared.  Allow Me to hold the hands I made, the hands I AM engraving My Name with yours into each line and wrinkle, so there is no need to hide them from me (remember? I was with you when each bump and mark became your existence, whether you saw Me or not).

Let Me flood you with the colour of clouds and the paint of petals.  Let Me show you how I AM a single water drop ready to fall after the rain, and at the same time how I AM thunderous gallons of water thrown up and splashed into rainbows (remember? I AM with you always).

I AM Song so allow Me to sing through you.  I AM Vision so allow Me to appear through you.  I AM Question so allow Me to be asked by you.  I AM Answer so allow Me to tell My Story by you.  I AM Healing so allow Me to lay My hands on you.  I AM Healing so now your hands are My Emergency Service so allow Me to place them where I AM needed.  I AM Healing so be healed by healing others, be healed by seeing how, with your help, they could be wholed to heal in their turn.

Gaze at all I AM, from the butterfly to the black hole, from the stained-glass window to the world-wide-web.  Be overcome by Me.  Welcome Me in.  

For I AM Healing and I AM Amazing.

gospel 3: Peace. Be Still.

Mark 4.35-41

Do you really not know that I AM With You – always – even to the end of time?  I AM with you  when you feel you are drowning, sinking, perishing.  I AM seeing your fears, and your fear of fear itself.  I AM hearing your shouts, your screams, your silent, desperate cries which all say you are being overwhelmed, that you are just not ‘enough’ to face all your present circumstances.  I AM knowing you think I AM not caring about how it is with you at this moment.  So, hear again: I AM the CareTaker.  I AM the StormWrestler.  I AM the WindCalmer.    I AM the WaveSoother.  I AM all creation and all creation is Me.  I AM asking you to be a StormRider who, at the very centre of the turmoil, still knows I AM Peace, so in your heart you can be still.  Cease your restless crowd-joining, searching for a glimpse of a celebrity to affirm you.  Cease your tears over that you cannot change, over what you think you need, and cannot have.  Cease your warmongering – put down your noisy guns and listen: hear what your perceived enemy has to say and hear their fears echo your fears, only then start speaking, and only from that still place which is where I AM PeaceFull.  Prick up your ears and practice alertness for I AM going to the other side, over there, and I AM asking you to come with Me.  Indeed, you are My vessel, my means of making this journey, and I AM asking you to take me.  Put down your Maps, for I AM Guide and I AM Guidance.  I AM Director and I AM Directions.  Put down your devices for capturing and connecting  and wait.  For I AM DeliveryDriver posting My Surprise through your door and it will be exactly what you need for now.  Put down the burdens you are carrying, cease the tasks you are rushing to fulfil, for all the people you think you have to serve.  Cease your hurrying to the market to buy, acquire, hoard, for I AM Abundance, and there is no possible scarcity in Me.  Cease spending your money on what will not last, on what will harm yourself, injure another, poison your planet.  Stop all this, and you will be able to see who I AM, to perceive where I AM, to understand what I AM wanting you to become.

Come, I AM RockSolid: sit on me, stare and let your gaze rest where it will.

Come, I AM LifeWater: dive into Me, be refreshed and learn how to float.

Come I AM WorldVoyager: cruise with Me, be safe with Me and discover what’s just over there.

Come, I AM here; here is an opportunity to see Me.

Come, be still, be at peace, know I AM.